By Lani Ritter-Hall

Administrative expectations, pacing charts —

Students engaged in inquiry project based learning—

PEARLS PLPers – cognizant of the tension of expectations and needs of their students– gather in their virtual learning community supporting, nudging each other—delving into the issue of “time” for project based learning—an issue raised in an Elluminate session by some community members to whom the concept of inquiry is new and for whom the pressures of “time” and/or expectations loom large–

In response, their colleagues raise their voices—

Advocating risk taking and use of technology–

With the emphasis put on students passing state tests, most schools have moved away from allowing students to be risk-takers or creative and have everything structured for test taking skills. It is sad that they don’t realize how big a role technology can play by trying to integrate it into the curriculum across the board    Marianne Troia  — PS 18

Suggesting a personal strategy from which others might learn–

Certainly using an inquiry approach may take extra time in the beginning because we are learning how to do so. I think once questioning becomes habitual (for both us and the kids), it may not require extra time. I suppose it’s important to start with the end in mind…what is it you want the students to learn (standards) and then approach the teaching differently. Much easier said than done…I’m starting with small steps. Just asking questions about topics before they are introduced/discussed. I know I have a lot to learn about the inquiry driven approach… Not only will the in-depth knowledge gained by using this approach be instrumental in understanding current material, it will also help our students to develop skills that will help them to be successful self-directed learners in the future.   Denise Olsen — St. Clare

­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­Passionately advocating for inquiry, project based learning–

I think the teachers need to see how worthwhile it can be to the learning going on in their classrooms before they really embrace the idea with open arms. It would be great if we were given extra time to experiment with new and exciting teaching strategies and technologies available at our fingertips, but realistically it’s up to the teacher to be passionate about it and make the time if they ever hope or plan to be successful with these approaches in their classrooms. The inquiry approach can be a very intimidating one to teachers that have never explored it before, but with the right amount of dedication and collaboration their among fellow teachers anything is possible- even in an already full curriculum.  Katie Christy  PS 18

In a world of “trained test takers” we need to teach our students how to be “thinkers” first. They need to ask critical questions, make connections to their personal lives and to the world around them- most importantly learn to take chances.
Teachers have to learn to do the same…. Take chances, pose new questions, let there be a “buzz” in the room.
Learn through inquiry and let our kids make mistakes…..their mistake might be an answer to another unsolved problem!    Bryant Romano — PS 44

Nudging, encouraging –from community members also immersed in restrictive environments –  yet modeling taking chances, posing new questions–   so much more powerful and effective than any contribution or question from me–  helping to shift perspectives of others while clarifying their own thinking—reminding me of the challenges inherent in change.

“Teachers have to learn to do the same…. Take chances, pose new questions, let there be a “buzz” in the room.” That “buzz” is perceptible in the community— what a sweet sound, and in the background I find myself surreptitiously working on its amplification —

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Lani Ritter Hall

Lani is Community Leader for Powerful Learning Practice. She also serves as the “Newbie Maven”, helping along and nurturing newbies to the PLP experience, as well as facilitator for the Connected Coaches. Lani brings more than 35 years of teaching experiences in urban, sub urban, and independent schools at the middle/secondary level in the U.S and Canada to this work. A national board certified teacher, she and her students began collaborating globally in the late 1980’s. Lani has created and facilitated professional development around technology infusion into learning for over twenty years and served in a leadership role for the K12Online Conference for 2 years. She is co-author of The Connected Educator: Learning and Leading in a Digital Age.
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